British Airways is investing in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) technology provider and SAF producer Lanzajet.
The company is in the process of building its first commercial scale plant in Georgia, USA where it will convert sustainable ethanol into sustainable aviation fuel. British Airways will purchase SAF from the plant to power a number of the airline’s flights from the end of 2022.
British Airways says that the fuel produced there will deliver a reduction of more than 70 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fossil jet fuel, equivalent to taking almost 27,000 petrol or diesel cars off the road each year.
Lanzajet was launched in June 2020 and is a spin-off from biotech company Lanzatech. Lanzajet’s SAF is made through a patented process “which can use any source of sustainable ethanol, including, but not limited to, ethanol made from non-edible agricultural residues such as wheat straw and recycled pollution”.
Commercialisation of this process, called Alcohol-to-Jet (AtJ) started with a partnership between Lanzatech and the U.S Energy Department’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). PNNL developed a unique catalytic process to upgrade ethanol to alcohol-to-jet synthetic paraffinic kerosene (ATJ-SPK) which LanzaTech took from the laboratory to pilot scale.
British Airways is joining Lanzatech, Mitsui and Suncor Energy as investors in the company.
In addition, the new deal with British Airways also involves Lanzajet “conducting early stage planning for a potential large scale commercial SAF biorefinery in the UK”.
British Airways and Lanzatech are also part of the Jet Zero Council, a partnership between government and industry to drive forward the UK Government’s net zero-emission ambitions for the aviation and aerospace sector, with a focus on sustainable aviation fuels.
Today’s announcement is in addition to British Airways’ existing partnership with Velocys to build a sustainable aviation fuel plant in the UK, which could produce SAF from 2025.
The airline says that “Investing to enable the commercial development of SAF forms part of the airline’s medium-term initiatives to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
British Airways’ parent company, International Airlines Group, will be investing US$400 million in sustainable aviation fuel in the next 20 years.
Sean Doyle, British Airways’ CEO, said:
“Following the successful start-up of the Georgia plant, we hope to then deploy the technology and SAF production capacity in the UK. The UK has the experience and resources needed to become a global leader in the deployment of such sustainable aviation fuel production facilities, and we need Government support to drive decarbonisation and accelerate the realisation of this vision.”
Jimmy Samartzis, Lanzajet CEO, said:
“Low-cost, sustainable fuel options are critical for the future of the aviation sector and the Lanzajet process offers the most flexible feedstock solution at scale, recycling wastes and residues into SAF that allows us to keep fossil jet fuel in the ground.”